Caera Sturgis, who is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Wesson Attendance Center in Mississippi for excluding her name and photo from the senior year book after she chose to wear a tuxedo in her portrait. Sturgis attended the school from Kindergarten through high school, had a 3.9 grade point average, and participated in an array of extracurricular activities. When Sturgis' portrait was rejected by the school because of the tuxedo, school officials insisted that it was "school policy" for female students to wear a drape for their senior portraits, according to the Associated Press . The school also reportedly ignored ACLU attempts to negotiate in October 2009.
Bear Atwood, the interim Legal Director for the ACLU said in an ACLU Press Release, "This should never have been an issue. Title IX and the Constitution prohibit school officials from forcing students to conform to gender stereotypes. Ceara should not have been expected to compromise her everyday appearance and identity for her senior portrait. The school's actions are discriminatory, unlawful and mean-spirited."
Also in the ACLU press release, Sturgis said, "I went to school with my classmates my whole life, and it hurts that I'm not included in my senior yearbook as part of my graduating class." She continued, "I never thought that my school would punish me just for being who I am."
The ACLU recently represented another Mississippi teen, Constance McMillen, whose school banned same-sex partners at prom and then cancelled the prom. In April, McMillen was invited to a decoy prom in order to prevent her from attending a separate prom parents had organized. The McMillen case was settled out of court in July.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .